MELBOURNE, Australia – Bellroy’s founding team started a carry blog in 2009 at a time when “carry” wasn’t yet a noun. They have since not only defined the category, but reinvented the standard wallet and pioneered the ‘slim wallet’ movement, sold more than two million products globally worth US$150 million in revenue, and partnered with some of the world’s most renowned brands including Google, Barneys New York and Qantas. And now, the business has accepted funding for the first time so that they can accelerate their journey towards being the world’s leading carry brand.
“We felt that, to have a sustainable competitive advantage, we had to put ourselves at the center of the carry world,” says CEO and founding designer, Andy Fallshaw.
Let’s be clear. This is not the latest VC-backed direct-to-consumer brand entering the market. The purpose-driven brand has been delighting customers with its design innovations for nearly 10 years – and profitably. The founding team bootstrapped the start-up with US$500k, which the business paid back within the first four years, proving that it can still be done that way.
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“We’ve been approached by great potential investors over the years, but it didn’t feel like the right time,” says co-founder and COO, Lina Calabria. “At the end of 2018, we found ourselves with three new product categories all growing at 100% per year – bags, work accessories and phone cases. We knew what 100%-plus growth looked like with wallets, and with three times the opportunity in front of us, it felt like the right time to bring on value-aligned investment partners to help both fund and guide us on our journey. We couldn’t be more delighted with the team we’ve brought together.”
The expansion capital funding round was led by US-based growth equity firm Silas Capital (early investors in Casper Mattresses) and includes both US and Australian investment partners. Vesparum Capital acted in an independent capital markets advisory role for Bellroy.
Already growing at 30% year-on-year prior to funding, the Bellroy team knows who they are as a brand and a business, and believe they can have an even greater impact on the world with the help of their investment partners. With the US$8 million in funding, Bellroy plans to continue developing their global reach, extend into new product lines and evolve market channels to make sure Bellroy products are readily available to anyone who wants to buy them.
But, as a for-purpose brand and certified B Corp, this company isn’t about growth for the sake of it. They say they will continue to be guided by customer-centric philosophies, responsible business practices, and category-defining design.
“Most of the fashion world is stuck in a ‘push’ system – they guess at what customers will want, then push it onto retailers who push it onto consumers. It’s a broken paradigm that results in excess inventory, rampant discounting and fluctuating fortunes,” says Fallshaw. “We believe there is a much better way – for customers, and for the environment. So we’ll continue to design modern classics that remain relevant, resonate deeply, and only get better with age.”
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Images via Bellroy.